Finger-pointing and recriminations are flying in the wake of Tuesday’s siege in the University of Hong Kong (HKU) by protesters demanding reform.
Former education minister Arthur Li sparked a backlash after comparing the protesters to “someone on drugs”, Apple Daily reports.
Li, the newly appointed chairman of the HKU governing council, likes to make slanderous accusations and make things up, the report said, quoting Civic Party co-founder Audrey Eu.
Eu hit back after Li accused the Civic Party of being behind the siege which left him and vice chancellor Peter Mathieson stranded inside a building for four hours.
The two top HKU officials appeared at a press conference on Thursday in which Li said the protesters were “like someone who has taken drugs … who has been poisoned by drugs”.
Li said only a minority of students were involved and apologized for their behavior, the report said.
But he blamed the Civic Party and some pan-democrats for the incident, saying they manipulated the protesters and incited them to violence.
Li accused student union chairman Billy Fung of lying about the council’s supposed refusal to set up a review panel on governance reform.
Also, Li linked protest organizer Yvonne Leung to Civic Party chairman Alan Leong.
He said Civic Party politicians and some other pan-democrats were at the scene, directing the protesters to riot.
Eu, an HKU graduate, denied the accusation, saying she had left three hours before the incident took place.
The protesters clashed with police and surrounded the building where the council had just finished its first meeting under Li’s chairmanship.
They denounced the council for supposedly dragging its feet after learning it had decided to wait for the findings of the University Grants Committee on a system-wide governance reform before setting up a review panel that could take months.
“Enough is enough. I have to stand up for decency,” Li told the press conference.
Mathieson backed Li’s comments but said he had no idea who else were at the protest site.
A day earlier, Mathieson condemned the incident in an internal memo, an apparent break with his student-friendly stance on recent academic issues.
Timothy O’Leary, HKU head of humanities, wrote in a Facebook post that Li’s accusations are groundless.
He blamed the incident on a breakdown in communication, impatience, an “understandable” distrust of the council and and the students’ “passionate commitment to the core ideals of HKU”.
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